Free maternity insurance cover for poor Kenyan women

2016-07-22 16:16

Nairobi - Kenya is providing free maternity insurance cover for women with the aim of reducing infant mortality rates in the East African nation.

The Kenyan government has set aside KES 4bn (about R562m) to provide health insurance through the National Health Insurance Fund to assist pregnant women from low-income and underprivileged backgrounds.

The Daily Nation reports that the first beneficiaries are expected to enjoy maternity cover from October, at no cost to the mothers, the health ministry stated.

Under the package, women would be covered, at a cost of KES 6 000 (about R843), each and would be entitled to at least four antenatal, delivery, and post-natal check-ups.

This is not the first attempt by the Kenya government to roll out free maternity schemes to mothers.

In 2013, the government began offering free maternity services to expectant mothers in public hospitals at county level. It was hampered by funding problems.

In 2015, The Standard reported that in some counties in rural Kenya, the government did not reimburse health facilities the amount due for taking care of maternity services, which essentially crippled the initiative.

In Nakuru county in Kenya's Rift Valley, the national government has not reimbursed public health facilities over KES 100 million (R14m) meant to cater for free maternity benefits. The county admitted that the project would collapse unless urgent action was taken.

According to Kenyan Health Minister Cleophas Mailu, this will no longer be an issue in the new scheme, as taxpayers would pay for it monthly as part of a national health insurance policy.

He said the biggest concern was reducing Kenya's infant mortality rate, which has ballooned due to inaccessibility and affordability, as the World Bank explained in its report on global infant mortality rates.

Capital News reported in 2015 that Kenya's infant mortality rates fell by 30% between 2010 and 2015 due to family planning, better child feeding practices, malaria and HIV control, and immunisation.

The government hopes the new insurance scheme will further press home gains made in the last couple of years.

Read more on:    nhif  |  world bank  |  jubilee  |  kenya  |  east africa

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